Thursday, 25 January 2007

Creation Ex Nihilo

At Ed Babinski's recommendation, I got on to some of The Teaching Company's excellent Religion courses. They have a host of courses on some wonderful topics. I figured I would start at the start and so downloaded Dr Gary Rendsberg's (Rutgers) Book of Genesis 24 lecture course.

In this course, Rendsberg recommends and uses the New JPS Translation of Genesis. The text of this newer translation is not available online (although the older 1917 version is) so forgive me if I refer to it but do not quote from it as I am in China and it isn't easy to come by here.

Rendsberg notes that,

The first thing we notice about Genesis 1 is that, contrary to what most people might assume or believe, the world is not created ex nihilo, that is, “out of nothing.”
By using the JPS translation, he makes the assertion that according to the syntax of the Hebrew text, Genesis 1:1 is actually a dependant clause, dependant on Gen 1:2-3. That is the earth is in a state of preexistent matter and then God creates the world. He asserts that creation ex nihilo is a later theological development that was then read back into the Hebrew text, but which is not supported by the Hebrew text.

Of course he said a lot more, but I thought this is of note to those of the Christian faith.


simplyspeaking said...

i kinda skimmed over your blog, and before i say anything else i want to congradulate you on your use of reason in this. sometimes when the anti-christian blogs out there are terrifyingly hateful, but you don't seem to blindly shut out Christianity.

i'm a chinese girl in america who's grown up in church all my life, and even though i've had my moments of doubt where i struggle with my faith a lot, i know i'm a christian. at the risk of sounding rather idiotic, i feel like i'm in over my head to ask you this, but is there a possibility that the church you joined wasn't really healthy? some churches i've been are horrifying-- shallow and hollow, like you've mentioned. but sometimes i'll walk into church and feel like the presence of God is literally there.

have you ever felt that? i'm sure you feel what i feel at other times too, that the church is dry and empty and very unsatisfying.

i wish i could adequately frame my words to fit better. sorry about that.

Troy Waller said...

Hi, thanks for bothering to even read my blog. :)

So you're Chinese and living in the US? I am Australian and living in China. :) Were you born in the US or did you migrate there? Can you speak Mandarin? I am only learning so my Mandarin is really poor.

Anyway, back to your comments. I was definitely involved in some church groups that many who still call themselves Christians would say were toxic and not good for anyone. But I was also involved with some more healthy groups. My church experiences were definitely part of the reason why I walked away from the faith, but there were theological and philosophical reasons as well. That's why I made the point about seeking a 'more pure form' of the faith too. To show I was aware of the problems in the church and didn't shift the blame for these on to God.

I can say I have experienced the sensations you describe as being 'the Spirit' and would have once called it that, but now I put it down to emotion and, more often than not, the effect of nice soft music (usually heavy on a 'strings' sound). ;P

Thanks again for reading. There is some good reading at:

simply2speak said...

haha-- i'm on the worship team for my church, so i totally know the effects of "music mood manipulation"!

i agree that a purer form of christianity would help so much with even just narrowing down churches, etc, but does that mean you don't disagree with christianity except for a few theological glitches? cause if the blame is on churches rather than God...

i've been to debunking@blogspot before, and i was quite literally blown away. my limited sense of logic can grasp neither theology nor its opponents, so i kinda just sat in front of my computer and tried to figure it out for myself. so many concepts are over my head!

on a different note, i can speak mandarin fluently with only sparse reading or writing skills, despite having been born and raised in the us. i think its awesome that you're a teacher in China-- they really appreciate "real English speakers" as teachers, rather than Chinese born English teachers.